The Burnley goalkeeper last played for England against Slovakia in September 2017, dislocating his shoulder soon afterwards in an injury that kept him out of Premier League action for 15 months in total.
However, he insists his return to the squad at the age of 32 is not just to warm the bench and he has been pushing Pickford in training all week in the hope of getting the final nod from Gareth Southgate.
“For me, the motivation has always been to get more caps,” Heaton said. “Having missed a good portion of football, I have certainly got the fire burning for more and certainly the hunger for more.
“I thought Jordan was incredible in the summer in the World Cup. His performances were really top drawer.
“But when we’re here, we compete for the place. Of course everyone wants to play but think you about yourself, you look at your sort of intrinsic thinking, try and get your things right and see what the manager decides.”
Last week, Southgate admitted that Pickford’s recent form – and some of his interactions with the crowd in the defeat at Newcastle – had given him cause for concern.
“I think those sorts of coaching conversations are right for myself and goalkeeping coach Martyn Margetson to have with Jordan individually,” the England manager said.
“It is fairly clear when you see pictures of what’s going on, but I think the detail of how we would want to work and address that, it is important that we are speaking to him and having those coaching conversations in the right environment really.
“You are always tracking where players are at and trying to find a reason. Very often coming with us can be a good change of scenery and an opportunity to reset and a different focus.
“But I’m never keen to say this player is the No1, and that’s it, because you’ve always got to have competition for places.”
Possession of the no. 1 shirt will have a particular poignancy against the Czech Republic on Thursday as the occasion will be used to pay respects to World Cup winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks who died last month aged 81.
His family will be in the Royal Box and during a moment of appreciation before kick-off when a giant replica of the yellow no. 1 jersey will be unfurled by the crowd.
Players will wear black armbands and Heaton in particular has his own individual memories of the man who won the FIFA world goalkeeper of the year award six times.
“I mainly remember the fact he was England’s World Cup-winning goalkeeper and made that iconic save, of course,” Heaton said. “70-odd caps for England was an incredible achievement.
“I was fortunate to meet him a while ago at my dad’s golf course. I was about 20, I think, around about that. I had a quick chat with him and he was brilliant towards a young goalkeeper at the time.
I asked him a few different questions about what sort of advice he would have for me. Only straightforward stuff, but a brilliant moment for me to have such a hero, really, to give me some really good words of advice.
“It was just along the basis of ‘what work you put in, you get out’. As straightforward as that, really.
“That, and I remember him telling me to make sure I enjoyed it. And he is right. You have certainly got to appreciate it. I have found that myself coming back after being out so long, you get an appreciation for being out there and enjoying every moment of it.”
It is advice which this week Heaton has been paying forward to Huddersfield’s young goalkeeper Ryan Schofield, currently plying his trade in League Two.
“I saw Ryan who’s here for the under-20s and on loan at Notts County,” Heaton said. “If you can add that sort of advice in now, having been in the game a while with the senior ones, you can offer that.
“It is such an important part. If you have a smile on your face you get more out of yourself. Sounds a little bit clichéd really, but I think you can really appreciate being in the moment and enjoying it.”